BALTIMORE—Thechairman of the U.S. Bishops' SpecialTask Force to Promote Peace inOur Communities presented findingsand recommendations from the Task Force that call Bishops to continue anddeepen the vital work of fostering healing and lasting peace in theirrespective communities.
ArchbishopWilton D. Gregory of Atlanta presented the findings today at the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops' Fall General Assembly in Baltimore. The former Conference President providedfeedback from interviews and an in-person listening session conducted inOctober, involving bishops and leaders from communities hit hard byviolence and unrest. Participants inthe listening session highlighted the strong need for ongoing conversationsabout the nature of challenges facing communities, and stressed the needfor sustained work in order to move toward lasting solutions and healing onmatters of race. Participants also emphasizedthe need for honest dialogues across many groups and communities, as wellas with law enforcement, community leaders, young people, activists, andcommunity groups. The important roleof bishops in helping to convene these conversations was emphasized.
"It hasbeen an honor to chair this Task Force and to offer recommendations to mybrother bishops as we look toward innovative solutions in accompanyingthose who are suffering in communities across our nation," said ArchbishopGregory. "The Church has a tremendous opportunity, and an equallytremendous responsibility, to bring people together in prayer and dialogueto begin anew the vital work of fostering healing and lasting peace."
ArchbishopGregory also stressed the significance of prayer as well as ecumenical andinterfaith collaborations. The importanceof solid models of engagement, particularly for at-risk young people, was acentral component of the Task Force's findings.
ArchbishopJoseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, President of the U.S. Conference of CatholicBishops, appointed the Special Task Force in July after incidents ofviolence and racial tension spread throughout communities across the UnitedStates.
A nationalDay of Prayer for Peace in Our Communities took place on September 9. Celebrated on the feast day of St. PeterClaver (1580-1654), a Jesuit missionary from Spain who worked tirelessly tocare spiritually and materially for Africans who were being sold as slaves,supporting the Day of Prayer was a key responsibility for the Task Force.
Today's updateby Archbishop Gregory offers recommendations for the bishops both at thelocal and national level. Some ofthese include: conducting local dialogues, parish-based and diocesanconversations and training, fostering opportunities for encounter, makingpermanent the National Day of Prayer, providing ongoing prayer resources, issuingstatements on racism and unity, greater collaboration within the Conference,and grassroots efforts by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development,among other things.
Other membersof the task force included: Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski of Miami,chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Social Development; BishopShelton J. Fabre of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana, chairman of the USCCBSubcommittee for African American Affairs; Bishop John H. Ricard, SSJ,Bishop Emeritus of Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former chairman of theUSCCB Subcommittee on the Church in Africa, member of the USCCBSubcommittee for African American Affairs, and member of the board of theNational Black Catholic Congress; and Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento,California, chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign forHuman Development (CCHD).
The TaskForce also included numerous bishop consultants whose jurisdictions haveexperienced extreme violence, or who otherwise bring special insight or experienceto bear on related questions. Anumber of lay consultants with relevant expertise were also appointed tothe Task Force.
Resultsand recommendations of the working group will be presented to the USCCBAdministrative Committee at a later date.
Keywords:U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, ArchbishopWilton D. Gregory, tragedy, attacks, violence, peace, healing, ArchbishopThomas G. Wenski, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Bishop Shelton J. Fabre,Bishop John H. Ricard, Bishop Jaime Soto, Day of Prayer for Peace in OurCommunities, task force
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